Trash Or Treasure: Infestation (2009)

Looks good, had nice ideas, but decided to be boring.

“One person’s Trash is another person’s Treasure”, but with so many movies out there how will you ever know which is which? Well, just follow the Raggedyman as he uses his extensive experience of watching practically anything that crosses his path to sieve through the offbeat, the obscure, and the just plain odd so you don’t have to. Cult classics, underground favourites, forgotten wonders, and new discoveries are all put to the test to find out if they are Trash or Treasure.

It’s always a gamble to seek out and watch movies that are on the margins of quality; they could have their middling, C-grade rating because the work doesn’t gel with that wide an audience, or because the makers were trying something new and exciting and just missed the mark. B+ rated movies are a known quantity, it’s most likely that they are going to be good at what they are doing from the offset, and any issues are just going to be personal preference. D- films are just punishment for punishments’ sake, something you watch for pure snark or irony. But the middle ground is when hitting “play” becomes an adventure in its own right; an exciting land where things can go either way…

“I’m telling you, the fish was this big”

Sadly, Infestation isn’t something that lands on the Trash side of that line, although it does try it’s hardest. Things start well, with your average “bad attitude slacker is a jerk, so gets fired”-comedy taking a sudden turn into “oh my God, everyone’s been put into cocoons by giant insects!”-horror. Cooper (Christ Marquette) is the jerk, and it’s his fate to turn into a nice person thanks to wanting to sleep with Sara (Brooke Nevin) and impress his dad (Ray Wise) by surviving the bugpocalypse.

Going full-Ripley in the final act.

He’s even got friends with him to help on his hero’s journey: Linda Park is the scientist who handles exposition, Kinsey Packard is the hot one who randomly gets her kit off, E. and Quincy Sloan is the random deaf son, with Wesley Thompson as his dad to do some seriously impressive emotional work with minimal dialogue. There’s also a couple who get wiped out by the bugs early on, to establish the stakes and show just how much attention the Foley team have put into the sound of bones breaking. To be candid: some of the injury noises made my stomach churn. A+++ would not want to hear again.

“Where did you want me to put the cocooned body again?”

Throw on top the bugs, and overall SFX looking way better than it should do for this kind of film, and there is a really solid grounding for what’s about to come. This includes the hybrid insects, that are utterly repulsive and used surprisingly sparingly, and some actual emotional trauma shown within the script. It’s got comedy, it’s got action, and it’s got drama. Unfortunately, this is where it all starts to fall apart.

“We’re just going to wait over here until our scenes come.”

Firstly, the comedy is mostly not funny. There are some actually laugh-out-loud moments, occasionally not created by something really unpleasant happening on screen, but most of the attempted gags land flat. Either the timing is off, or the lines are delivered too weakly, or things head towards drama and end up looking ridiculous (and, in one occasion, pretty offensive). Additionally, the slacker is a jerk and mostly remains a jerk. He’s annoying, rather than funny, and the revealing of his backstory makes him more of a jerk than he already is. So that mucks up the drama side of things, as it all ends up being far to lightweight. Some of the characters have some lovely emotional moments, but with Cooper carrying the story by being a loser, they all end up feeling out of place and wasted.

“Sorry… did I just steal this movie? I didn’t mean to… it just… happened”

Similarly, the horror isn’t that horrific. Oh, it’s got some lovely make up and visual effects, both for the humans and the insects, but other than a couple of jump scares it’s mostly a case of unpleasant concepts rather than actual visceral scares. Unless you have a problem with bugs and spiders, in which case you will be bricking yourself at those bits. There is a lovely attention to detail on the body-horror, but that somehow gets lost amongst the comedy and the drama not working too well.

“Did I leave the gas on?”

Throw in a fairly by-the-numbers storyline, very few twists that aren’t overt plot-bombs, and an ending that is best described as a pointless let-down, and it all heads into Trash territory after the first 20 minutes. Which is frustrating, as you can see how it could have worked out so much better. No one, not even Christ Marquette, did a bad job of what they were given. There was a huge amount of detail put into the filming, and, as said, some lovely visual work on display. It just needed some clear direction, and a clear decision, on what it wanted to be. Instead, it just faffed around, wasting time and the viewers goodwill on bits that never really paid off, and felt forgettable even whilst watching it.

The Raggedyman

Enjoy the article? Want to go further into the world of Trash or Treasure? Then check out the complete archive of reviews right now on our Trash or Treasure archive.
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